Looking at mobile media trends in 2014

Posted: December 18, 2014

Writing an article looking into the review mirror is a tricky business. How does one write about the highlights of 2014, when there are so many exciting initiatives to talk about! Mobile touch’s many different parts of the way we communicate and therefore there are so many diverse stakeholders. Hopefully, many stakeholders is a positive, and a sign of the times. Next year will be the YEAR OF MOBILE…only kidding! We are a mobile community, so the world and era of mobile is already here! It’s time to empower ourselves to understand how we can leverage this dynamic and engaging marketing channel to build better consumer information and relevancy for the end user. Bring on BIG DATA!

It’s great to see the growth in awareness of the importance of mobile with regards to communication strategies. There seems to be a real buzz building about mobile and it’s my belief that 2015 will hold really exciting progress both for the industry and MMA SA.

Some of the industry highlights for 2014 and trends leading into 2015:

The Connected User – South African’s are more connected than ever and smartphones are on the increase. MMA SA released the SilverstoneCIS #MobileRocks report earlier this year (http://lnq.in/mobilerocks01), estimating smartphone penetration at 39% up 8% from 2013. This is mostly due to the influx of cheaper Chinese handsets coming into market. If strategic partnerships like that of MTN and Flatrock Solutions, who built the operating system running the MTN Steppa device, are anything to judge by 2015 will see a lot of movement in this space.

Native – Whether it’s native applications, content or advertising, there is a definite rise in native assets being developed to ensure relevancy for the user. “The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it,” Marc Weiser – Xerox Parc, 1988.

Traditional Publishers Shift into Mobile First Gear – While the debate continues, adaptive vs. responsive, many traditional publishers have consolidated their mobile content and go to market strategies in 2014. I recently had the privilege to meet two of the driving forces behind Caxton’s Local news network – www.localnewsnetwork.co.za and was hugely impressed to learn that they now see 70% of their digital inventory generated from tablet and mobile devices. This has been a trend across most publishers as they learn how to reach users on their first screen.

Evolution of Mobile Transacting – If you have attended a mobile money conference in the past few years it’s evident who the success stories are in Africa, Mpesa is always the first that springs to mind. More recently I’m extremely proud to admit that we have new home sung hero, WiGroup International, who recently won the global PWC Vision to Reality Awards in Luxembourg. Specialising in point-of-sale integrated mobile transacting, the platform enables retailers to accept any mobile transaction application by integrating into one platform. This is definitely an African company to keep your eye on in 2015! On a global scale applications like WeChat and Facebook are building out transaction infrastructure. The battle of Android vs. Apple rages on and looks to intensify with the launch of Apple Pay.

Location Location Location – With approximately 70% of mobile searches on Google having a location element, it’s clear to see where the movement is heading. Apps almost always ask for access to your location to ensure relevant content is shared or companies like Vicinity Media build their entire business on hyper location media opportunities. The movement is to understand where you are and be able to target you with relevant content and advertising.

Right Place, Right Time, Big Data- Mobile media is certainly in a transient phase, as is all digital media. The word Programmatic, has got the marketing communities tongue wagging! What is it and how do we use it? Very simply, it’s giving marketers the ability to purchase advertising in an automated space, using technology that has various data layers plugged into it. Whether this data is collected by the platform the media is generated from, or a third party ( DMP), depends on the platform or media provider. The rise of purchasing an audience is upon us and there is no better channel to ensure we understand this audience than mobile. Albeit we need to ensure the product/ platform we trust has the tools to collect mobile data, which differs significantly to that on desktop.

Opt-In or Opt-Out – There are a lot of unresolved regulatory issues pending from 2014, POPI compliance is looming. ICASA’s regulation numbering change is also sure to have a far-reaching impact on mobile service operators.

Top tip for 2015 is to watch what happens in the privacy space. This has been a much talked about topic in 2014, but I believe South Africa will make major changes in 2015 moving into a space advocating more privacy. Also viewability is a hot topic for media consumption and the way media is sold. Some of our local publishers (Daily Maverick) have been trail blazers, but with Unilever’s recent development to move toward ensuring adverts purchased are actually seen or played, it appears this is an industry trend to watch.

For MMA SA, 2014 has been a year of highlights and none of this would have been possible without the unconditional support that Candice and I received during both our tenures. Hosting our own events ( #MobileRocks and Morning of Mobile with Tomi Ahonen), launching our first education and training program with mCordis, partnering with various 3rd party events to ensure MMA has a market presence, collaboration with the IAB and DMA throughout the year on various initiatives ( thanks to both Jarred and Alistair for this) to launching our MMA Local Smarties, it’s been a fantastic year. For our member companies that have won accolades both locally and abroad, I commend you on your achievements and hope to support you in the months to come. I welcome Nazeer Suliman, from Unilever, onto the operations team as Vice-Chair for MMA SA, who will take over the reigns in August 2015.

In closing I’d like to thank all those that have supported the MMA SA and operations team over the past year and we look forward to growing together in 2015.